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How to decide where you need an ADA ramp

The topic of this article is how to decide where you need an ADA ramp.Now, at first glance, to those of you who maybe are just starting up your own business or haven't thought about the ADA before-and shame on you-you might not think that designing a ramp according to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is that big of a deal.I mean, a ramp is a ramp is a ramp, right?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a congressional act that was signed into law by the first President Bush.The Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to ensure that workplaces, schools, and basically any other environment, building, center, or anything else is designed so that it is equally accessible to those with and those without disabilities.If you have an employee with a disability, whether they are in a wheelchair or if they get in an automobile accident and have to be on crutches for an extended period of time, you are required by law to comply with the guidelines set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act for business places or public buildings.Essentially, if you are an employer, whether of a business or a non profit organization or a government organization, you need to review all of the guideline of the Americans with Disabilities Act today so that you can ensure that you are in compliance.Otherwise, you've got a lawsuit in your future.

So here are some guidelines on how to build ramps in compliance with ADA guidelines.First of all, the ADA says that all streets, roads, etc. that have curbs and/or barriers to separate the road from a walkway must have curb ramps.In other words, all sidewalks have to have curb ramps.For the ramps to be considered compliant with ADA guidelines, the ramp must have a landing at the top, with cross-slopes and running slopes.There has to be an easy and completely smooth movement from the sidewalk to the crosswalk.Water cannot gather in the gutter of the ramp.
Here are some further guidelines on how to make ramps compliant with ADA standards.

Outdoor Conditions

If your ramp is outside, you must ensure that no water gathers on the surface of the ramp.

Cross Slopes

The ramp's cross slope cannot be greater than 1:50.

Ramp Surfaces

The surface of the ramp is required to be firm, slip-resistant, and completely stable.


If the ramp drops off on the side, then you are required to provide handrails, projecting surfaces, walls, railings, and/or curbs.If you have a curb, it must be at least 2 inches high.


When building your ramp, you have to make sure that you use the smallest slope that you possibly can for the positioning of the ramp.The maximum slope is 1:12.The maximum slope of a gutter and/or road that is next to a curb ramp can't be any bigger than 1:20.


We already went over the requirements for the surface itself, in terms of being slip resistant.If you have any vertical changes in the surface and you don't want to include any edge treatment, then the changes can't be more than .25".If the change is between .25 and .5" then you have to bevel it with a slope that isn't more than 1:2.Any changes that are larger have to have a ramp.

Curb Ramps that are Diagonal

If you have a corner or diagonal curb ramp, then the edges must be parallel to the direction that pedestrians are moving.The bottom of the corner or diagonal curb ramp has to have a clear space of at least 48 inches.If this corner curb ramp happens to be at a marked crossing, then make sure that the clear space is within the markings.If there are flared sides at your corner ramp, then there must be at least 24 inches of straight curb on each side of the ramp and inside of the marked crossing.

These guidelines do not even begin to scratch the surface of all of the different requirements that fall under ADA guidelines for ramps, signage, handrails, and essentially everything else.For a beginning toolkit to help you navigate the wild and complex world of ADA regulations, try out this government created toolkit.

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